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tv   Andrea Mitchell Reports  MSNBC  March 17, 2010 1:00pm-2:00pm EDT

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doctor charles boustany. also analysis from nbc political director chuck todd, moderator of "meet the press," david gregory and charles cook. good day. happy st. patrick's day, everyone. i'm andrea mitchell. americans are evenly divided over health care but united in their dislike of congress. that is the clear message from our new nbc news and "wall street journal" poll. nearly half those questioned say that health reform is a bad idea. but one thing everyone seems to agree on, more than three-quarters, a whopping 77% disapprove of congress. only 17% approve of congress. chuck todd is nbc's political director, cohost of "the daily rundown" and our chief maven on polls. charlie cook publishes the cook political report and is an msnbc political analyst. welcome both. chuck, this is a fascinating poll. it's got bad news for just about everyone but in some ways the white house is interpreting it as good news. how so? >> i would say it's tolerable news. and it allows them -- it sort of
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fits into the narrative that privately they've been telling and selling to wavering democrats. and there's this. when you look at the poll there's another question there about is it better to pass this bill or not do anything? and that is split down the middle. what you have is both parties have gone into their respective corners as far as the public is concerned. so most democrats are in the, well, just pass it, better than nothing. most republicans saying don't do it. kill it. better than doing something. and so what the white house can do is say, look, you vote against this thing and your own base of your party's going to punish you. it is more of a punishable offense to do this to your base. and if you -- and that is the democratic argument. frankly, when you talk to any long-time sort of political strategist they would say the first thing you've got to do in any tough environment is at least make sure you're not
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alienating the base of your party and then worry about winning over swing voters. >> the president's own party, 48% approval. charlie, how do you read that? >> the president's been hovering 49%, 49%, 50%, for a long time. congress kept going down. to me the takeaway number from this survey was when they asked people, basically, do you want divided government? do you want one party to control both congress and the presidency so they can work together or would you rather see different parties control congress and capitol hill? and it was basically dependent upon whether you were talking about adults who are registered voters, basically 60% wanted divided government, 30% wanted single party government. that's where i think those independents that we were talking about, chuck was talking about what democrats want, what republicans want, fundamentally these independent voters, they
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don't trust either party. i think we can see what the closing arguments for republicans will be this fall. is do you want -- do you want to give democrats a blank check? do you want democrats to have a blank check? that's what i think was the takeaway for me from that survey. >> of course the closing arguments for this week for health reform are do it for the party because you shouldn't go against your base. the electorate is evenly divided pro and con health care. you might as well vote with your base. james obistar was a strong anti-abortion vote, pro stupak vote. he was not only against this the second time around, but he now says, chuck todd, he's going to vote for it. let's take a look at what president obama did to try to win over dennis kucinich. this was monday, of course, in kucinich's own district. >> your own congressman who is
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tireless on behalf of the working people, dennis kucinich -- [ applause ] -- did you hear that dennis? you want to say that again? >> dennis kucinich is not someone you could arguably say was a predictable vote. >> no. >> because he is very liberal. and he isn't easily embarrassed. and he might have come out against the president even having taken that ride on "air force one." this is the end game. they're going hand to hand combat with every single member. >> well, it does show you how desperate they are for every vote. this guy loves to search for 15 minutes of fame. it's why he's had two runs for president just to basically get on the stage and debate on television. and then this whole charade of being able to stay out, hold out as a no vote so he could get his
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ride on "air force one", have the president shout him out. and have a press conference today. he got what he wanted out of this. he found his five minutes of fame here. i tell you this. if you can't get dennis kucinich to do this, that would have been the real stuff one, obistar, that's a big one. that's at least sending a message to some of the other pro-life democrats, hey, take one for the team on this one when it comes to your party. >> charlie, looking toward the fall, and you're the best expert that anyone has ever talked to about these fall campaigns, what campaign, what strategy, should the democrats use to try to prevent the republicans from taking over the congress? >> i think the most important single thing they could do right now is just get this thing, do whatever you're going to do on health care, get it out of the way as soon as possible. get back to a focus on economy and jobs. there is a limit to probably what government can actually do
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to affect the trajectory of the economy. but they have to be seen as focused on the economy like a laser beam in the words of bill clinton in 1992. that was probably why they should have cut a deal last summer and moved back on to the economy. but why they ought to do it just as soon as possible to get off the subject of health care as soon as possible. one way or the other. and move back on to other issues. >> but, charlie, they can't drop the ball. if they pass this, let's assume they pass it, they've got to still do the sales job after the fact. because one of the things in this poll also shows us that they have not sold stimulus. remarkably, republicans now beat democrats at how -- you know, how are they doing on handling the economy. they've completely dropped the ball on the sales part, the communications part, on the stimulus package after having passed it. >> i agree with you. the democrats have lost the messaging fight on health care, they've lost the messaging fight on the stimulus package. the question is can you -- if you've been unsuccessful for a
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year at messaging something, do you keep trying or are you better off just changing the subject? because i would argue that voters have kind of hit the mute button a little bit on stimulus and on health care. and they need to move -- change the subject and move on to other things that people care about. >> and don't miss, thanks to you charlie cook, thank you chuck todd. don't miss chuck, of course, on "the daily rundown" at 9:00 eastern right here on msnbc. coming up, final passage for that jobs bill. the congressional black caucus says not enough. elijah cummings, joining us. later republican congressman charles boustany, a heart surgeon, on what he's looking to cut this time, health care costs. this is "andrea mitchell reports" only on msnbc.
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and you're looking at live pictures right now in the rayburn room at the capital. the pra digsal st. patrick's day lunch with the president, the vice president, the speaker of the house, the speaker is about to introduce the president. whose great-great-great grandfather was an irish immigrant who came to america. he can claim a little irish ancest ancestry. >> my outstanding vice president and his newest chief of staff, to prime minister cowan and the entire irish delegation as well as the extraordinary leaders from ireland and northern ireland, it is my privilege to welcome all of you for this wonderful st. patrick's day tradition. governor o'malley, thank you for
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that outstanding rendition of our two national anthems. i had asked if martin was going to do a rock 'n' roll version. some of you know he's got a rock band and is in much demand. you know, this tradition as most of you know, was begun by tip o'neil and ronald reagan. two men who agreed on their love of all things irish. they also knew how to set aside time just to enjoy one another's company. president reagan himself said that the two men could be friends after 6:00. and i manage they also made a midday exception for this luncheon every year. and today's a day we speak with pride of being irish-american. whether we actually are or not.
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i am pleased to say that i can actually get away with it. and i've got prime minister cowan here to vouch for me. i can trace my ancestry on my mother's side there. i believe it was my great-great-great-great-great grandfather. this is true. he was a boot maker, if i'm not mistaken. someone actually discovered my irish lineage when i was running for president. and my first thought was, why didn't anybody discover this when i was running for office in chicago? you know? i would have gotten here sooner. i used to put the apostrophe after the o, but that did not work. so it is nice to have a little irish blood today. it is, after all, a day to
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celebrate and give thanks for the profound and enduring relationship between ireland and america. and it's also a day to thank the irish people for all that they've done for america. few nations so small have had such an enormous impact on another. they came to our shores in waves by choice as well as by necessity, building new lives even as they were building a new nation. enriching our heritage, enriching our culture in their own way. in so doing alongside so many others who sought a better life in america, they forged a better future for all of us. but the truth is, they weren't always welcomed. there were times where the irish were caricatured and stereo typed and cursed at and blamed for society's ills. so naturally it was a good fit for them to go into politics.
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it made sense. he said, when i began, it was long ago and the situation around here was a bit different. i had no education to speak of. a good many roads were closed to our people. and politics seemed the easiest way out. today, of course, we all feel the heavy absence of one of our greatest irish-americans, a man who loved this day so much, a man who i believe is still watching this body closely, particularly this week, and that is our beloved ted kennedy. and i'm so grateful that vicki and patrick are here. thank you for your presence.
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i confess that one of my fondest memories of teddy has been on my mind lately. it's one i've shared before. just a few years ago on st. patrick's day, so it would probably be maybe five years ago when i'd just gotten to the senate, teddy cornered me on the senate floor for my support on a piece of legislation. and i told him, you've got my vote, teddy, but i've got to tell you, this is not looking good. i do not think this thing is going to fly. but it did. with votes to spare. and so i grabbed teddy, pulled him aside, i said, how did you pull that off? and he just patted me on the back, and he said, luck of the irish. and it's nice when the luck of the irish can bring to the senate and to congress such an extraordinary leader as ted
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kennedy. i think it's a little providence as well as a little luck. it's also nice when the luck of the irish can bring us all together, republicans and democrats. that was one of teddy's talents, even as he waged epic and unyielding battles in this building. he, too, was a believer that we were all friends after 6:00. and, more importantly, he was a believer in building consensus and forging compromise and the idea that the only way that we can accomplish the work of the american people is to work together. and one of the greatest testaments to his life and his work, i think, was that so many of his colleagues past and present, republican and democrats, came forward to honor him in similar terms. and that work, the work of setting aside old differences and softening hardened positions, taking the tough steps to do what's right in the long run over what's easy in the moment, has also paid dividends in terms of the remarkable progress that we've seen in northern ireland, particularly in recent months.
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and so i want to salute first minister peter robinson and deputy first minister martin mcginnis for their yououtstandi leadership, their continuing example. thank you. it is such leadership that keeps me convinced that our best days for this legislative body, for this nation, for ireland, for northern ireland, and for the friendship between our peoples, those best days are still ahead. so i thank you and your lovely wife for coming. to you and to the people of ireland, america's grateful for our shared past, hopeful for our common future, and i assure you we will be a faithful partner in the work of progress and prosperity and a just and lasting peace. happy st. patrick's day to all of you. with that, please welcome the
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prime minister of ireland, brian cowan. >> barack obama, the president of the united states, on st. patrick's day. when all republicans and democrats get together in good cheer. and joining us now, an $18 billion jobs bill on its way to the oval office, a rare example of bipartisan action in washington, and this was the president talking about that earlier today. >> it is the first of what i hope will be a series of jobs packages that help to continue to put people back to work all across america. i also want to say to the republicans who voted for this bill that i appreciate their willingness to work with democrats in a bipartisan fashion to get america moving again. >> with the president just a few hours ago, but of course this does not go far enough for the congressional black caucus. not enough jobs. the unemployment rate way too high. democratic congressman elijah cummings has been pushing hard
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organizing his team to try to persuade the white house that more has to be done. congressman, thank you very much. thanks for your patience while the president was speaking at the st. patrick's day lunch. i'm going to ask you, what more can be done? there isn't much bipartisan support for anything these days. the jobs bill was a small measure. but the republicans, of course, are insisting that everything be paid for, understandably enough. but unemployment is a pressing concern for the black caucus. >> yes. keep in mind, andrea, that since 2008 the unemployment rate in the african-american community has doubled. back in 2008 it was 9% for black men. now it's 19%. for african-american women it hovered around 7% a few year ago. now it's around 13%. and so -- and, by the way, one other thing that a lot of people don't realize, 45%, andrea, of all the african-americans that are unemployed have been unemployed for more than six months. so the african-american community is hit harder.
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now, the most recent -- this jobs bill that -- i call it a tax bill that the president will be signing tomorrow. i'm going to be there. because i think it's important that we give businesses tax breaks to our folks. but the problem in the african-american community, i don't think will be helped a lot by that bill. and george miller, congressman miller, has just filed a local jobs for america act which will basically do several things. it will target those communities that have high poverty rates and those communities that have double digit unemployment. it will provide training. because a lot of african-american people were the last hired and the first fired. and a lot of those jobs aren't coming back, andrea. so we need to be retrained for other job. another thing that we're seeing is a lot of our local governments are shedding jobs. why? because they simply do not have the funds. a lot of those folks need to be retrained also. so we're going to be pushing
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hard for that. he just fathered it in the last day or so. he's going to have quite a few cosponsors. >> do you have enough support? i'm presuming you could get this past the house. what about the senate? what is the white house doing to help you here? >> as you know, andrea, the other day, last week we met with -- i think the president is very supportive of our efforts based upon what he said. and we're just going to have to put the same kind of pressure that he's been exerting with regard to this health bill, we're going to have to put it on that jobs situation. it is -- we do -- we are concerned about the senate. i do believe we can get it through the house. but we've got to work hard. and because people are tired of not working. people want to work. they just want to have an opportunity to work. >> let me also turn your attention to some of our polling. 77% of the people in our poll really dislike their members of
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congress. just totally fed up. it's a toxic atmosphere for members like yourself running for re-election. what do you say to people? and what do you say to people as you're trying to get them to vote for health care when so many people out there in the public -- the public is evenly divided on the health care reform bill. just about, you know, evenly split. but everyone is united in their dislike of members of congress. don't take this personally. >> not at all. believe it or not, i say this to my constituents. i tell them, i'm sure when you watch c-span you get very upset. the reason why the public is so upset, andrea, is because they can't see anything getting done. i think that really bothers them. the other thing that bothers them a lot is when they see all the things that we've done for the banking community and wall street, and they don't feel that we've done enough for them. and that's -- and we have to address that. now, again, going back to this
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health bill, we will pass this bill. no doubt about it. >> when do you think it'll pass, congressman? do you think this is a vote on saturday? and are you going to have to resort to this procedure where the vote is rolled into the rule and so voting for the rule is actually accepting the unpopular senate bill? >> i think -- i'm not sure what the methodology will be. keep in mind, it's my understanding that the -- marry reid has just gotten some numbers from the cbo. we're waiting for numbers from the congressional budget office to see exactly what the bill costs. that will help us in trying to figure out exactly what method to use. but the bill will be passed. i think once that happens, and one of the things that the president said during our meeting with him, he said, look. he said, we've got to pass this. and he said, once it's passed, he believes very strongly that the american people will be pleased. we've just got to make sure they understand what we are accomplishing. we cannot err on the side of people not having health insurance.
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you've got a state like texas where 27% of the people are uninsured. what are they supposed to do? die? suffer? i don't -- and everybody agrees, andrea, that health care reform is needed. we need workable solutions. i think the president has come up with a workable solution along with members of congress. we are going to pass this. >> elijah cummings, thank you very much. of course, the woman on the spot is nancy pelosi. piling on pelosi. that's a favorite sport now in washington. republicans in competitive congressional races increasingly painting the speaker, not the president, as the face of health care reform. that's because of deep voter dissatisfaction, of course, with congress which we've been discussing. our new nbc "wall street journal" poll showing that while president obama's approval rating hovers at about 48%, congress's approval is at a dismal 17%. politico's editor in chief, john harris, joins us now. that's the game plan. go after nancy pelosi. hi, john. how do democrats counter that?
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>> i mean, i think what democrats are trying to do is focus on local issues. republicans trying to nationalize it. essentially what -- what the republican strategy is, is to turn nancy pelosi into newt gingrich. you remember, andrea, in the 1990s there was no republican anywhere, particularly in the more moderate areas like the northeast, who wasn't -- democrats tried to make that person the identical twin of newt gingrich. gingrich was very unpopular at that time. nancy pelosis numbers gnasnatioy are very, very low. president obama is still personally popular. they don't want to take aim at barack obama. they're trying to make nancy pelosi the focal point of national democrats. republicans say they think it's going to be a great strategy. they're portraying many of these
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democrats, endangered democrats, as nancy pelosi's best friends. nancy pelosi says it didn't work that great in the '90s, it's not going to work now. >> a poll says pelosi is favorable to 36%. unfavorable 51%. that tells you the story. just about matches the numbers for congress. de so people are looking at her, and they're seeing congress, and they don't like what they're seeing. >> that's right. and, you know, a district in new hampshire is one of the examples, where carol shafport of the democrats has a tough race. her opponent is saying vote for shafport and you'll get nancy pelosi because she's nancy pelosi's best friend . this is a pretty old trick in the bag of political tricks. the question is just how effective is it. >> okay. john harris from politico, thank you very much. >> see you, andrea. coming up next, will republicans mount a legal
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challenge to nancy pelosi's strategy to use, quote, deem and pass? to pass health care. louisiana congressman charles boustany joins us next on "andrea mitchell reports." gecko: quite impressive, yeah. boss: come a long way, that's for sure. and so have you since you started working here way back when. gecko: ah, i still have nightmares. anncr: geico. 15 minutes could save you 15% or more on car insurance.
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house democrats picked up at least one vote today, dennis kucinich, switching his vote to be with the president. today democratic leaders are trying to counter republican charges that they are making an end run around a roll call vote. >> this is a procedure, by the way, that was used almost 100 times under newt gingrich and over 100 times by speaker hastard which my friend, mr. candor, supported most of the time if not all the time. so this is not an unusual proceed where you are. unfortunately, the republicans are a little bit like the boy who killed his two parents and then wants sympathy because they're an orphan. >> joining me now, louisiana republican congressman charles boustany, a heart surgeon and members of the ways and means
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committee. thank you for joining us. what's your response to steny hoier? >> i think the american people have rejected this approach and rejected the bill. it's been shown in poll after poll. that's why we need to scrap the bill. let's get back to the table and put together a good step by step approach that the american people approve. you know, this is very, very complicated. and as a physician, i can tell you there are many, many problems with the bill. >> but, of course, in our new nbc news/"wall street journal" poll, the american people are equally divided, evenly divided, 45%, 46% wanting it passed, not wanting it passed. so it's not a total rejection. it's that people really are split down the middle. >> well, that's one poll. there are a number of other polls that show a significant split. keep in mind there are margins of error in these polls. you know, really, if you really get out there and speak to people across this country and certainly back in my home state, they're overwhelmingly rejecting the approach taken by speaker pelosi and the bill itself.
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that's why we need to get back to a bill that will really bring down premium costs rather than increasing premium costs, which is what we're going to see in this bill. >> of course the argument from the democrats and supporters of the bill is that this will eventually bring down premium costs and it actually will be budget saving. >> well, i think that's disputable. and we know in the short term premiums are going to rise over and above the current rate of rise that we're seeing. and this is going to hurt american families. and that's why i think there's a better way to do this. as a doctor who's worked with insurance companies and had to deal with them on a day by day basis, worked with patients and as someone who has an understanding of the health care system, if we're really going to get the costs down for american families and business owners, you've got to go after the direct cost in this. and that's not in the bill. >> let me share with you some analysis from peter hart and bill mcintyre, our two -- peter a democrat, bill the republican. their interpretation of these data from the poll.
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they've been doing these poll for years. it's considered the gold standard of polling. they said the public is disgusted and unhappy. the memo is pretty simple, said hart. americans to congress, you stink. and that covers republicans as well as democrats. is that message something that you guys need to internalize, that both republicans and democrats, if you're an incumbent, you're on the line right now? >> well, i think congress is polling very lowly right now. and here's the reason. it's because the speaker is taking a very partisan approach to this. and what the american people want to see is a new tone in washington. they want to see us work to solve problems that american families are facing every day such as health care costs. and when the leadership chooses deliberately to take a very partisan approach, that poisons the well. there are a number of us on both sides of the aisle that would like to get back to the table and do this in a reasonable way, step by step, that really addresses the core problem here. and that is getting the costs
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down so that we can hopefully over time improve coverage. that's the real goal. >> okay. charles boustany, dr. charles boustany, thank you very much for joining us. topping the head loolines r now, thousands of volunteers in fargo, north dakota, working around the clock to protect their community from the rising red river. the waters there have passed the major flood stage and will continue to rise. it's expected to crest above 20 feet flood stage on sunday. treasury secretary tim geithner is on a charm offensive. in an interview geithner called the fight for financial reform a just war that he can help wage against wall street. >> a lot of democrats in the congress are looking forward to being able to run on wall street regulation. your political image does not help them do that. because you are seen as a wall street guy. do you think that image is
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unfair? >> first, you know this. >> i know you're not a wall street guy. everybody thinks you are. they don't think -- >> never worked on wall street. i've spent every job i've had in life since i came into graduate school in effect has been working as a public servant in government. and the first lady taking her fight against childhood obesity to newsstands nationwide. michelle obama's let's move campaign is the cover story for the new issue of "newsweek." in the article the first lady points her finger at parents, saying, quote, our kids didn't do this to themselves. coming up, can the united states and israel mend their relationship? "meet the press" moderator and host david gregory joins us next. i was active, eating healthy. i thought i was in great shape.
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david gregory is moderator of nbc's "meet the press" joining us now. give me some good news. this just in. the former first lady, the secretary of state hillary clinton just lifted off from andrews air force base for moscow. she's going to touch down in shannon, this is a pip cal refueling stop. but it is st. patrick's day. so she's going to be in ireland today on her way to moscow. and she did not get a call from israel today. you know, hello, hello. we were told yesterday that benjamin netanyahu was going to be calling her today before she left for this meeting of the various parties involved in the peace talks, in the stalemated peace talks. and she was going to get a call from netanyahu to further explain this dispute over the housing in east jerusalem. no response from him yet or phone call or angry phone call from last friday. >> what we know is during that phone call there were specific demands placed on netanyahu, certain conditions that were to be placed on him.
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and a promise that there would be some consequences if there was not follow-through. i don't happen to know what the details of those conditions are. but that's what she's waiting to get an answer on. you see mike lauren, the israeli ambassador, trying to tamp things down a little bit, saying this is not the worst moment in u.s./israeli relations. but this is an overflowing, as you well know, of this frustration within the white house with this netanyahu government. this is not a u.s./israeli thing. this is frustration with the netanyahu government. >> in fact, the ambassador was quoted, and he says he was misquoted, but he was quoted as telling israelis back home over the weekend in a briefing from here, obviously, from washington, that this is, quote, a crisis. he's saying he didn't use the word "crisis." hillary clinton said, no, this isn't a crisis. we always have these moments. even friendly allies. we've seen this before. james baker could tell you every time he would go to israel there would be a new settlement announced. but this is the worst we've seen it in a number of --
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>> right. because by all accounts, the netanyahu government took a provocative step at a really ill-advised time. and that was most of the difficulty there. >> now, what we're seeing now are live pictures from outside the capitol as the president's getting ready to leave. you can hear the bag pipes. and he's saying good-bye to nancy pelosi. you can only imagine some of the side conversations about health care, david, as they approach this crucial weekend. the speaker seems to think she's got some momentum going. they picked up kucinich. they've got james oberstar who had been in favor of the bill, but is one of those people demanding the stupak amendment. now he's saying he's okay with the status quo because it protects the abortion opponents right now. do they seem to be picking up the moment? >> i think they are. you're getting a big internal push from the likes of david axelrod and the president telling these folks, look, if
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you think you're going to swim away from the president right now you can't swim fast enough. he's going to be an anchor around your neck when it comes to election time. right now you've already taken a vote if you're a house member. you've taken a controversial vote on health care. you're going to be held accountable. you might as well get this thing passed and allow us to make the argument. i talked to a democrat iic strategist close to the white house yesterday, if you -- there are some things to campaign on. it's going to be easier for obama in 2012 than a democratic this year. but there's still some things you can make the argument for. that's the argument that they're making right now. i think the feeling is as they get closer to the vote, look, no president calls for a vote unless they think they've got it. in this case even if they think they're on the cusp of it they'll move forward with that vote. >> there has been criticism as you know of the white house staff in all of this.
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because i was really struck, blanche lincoln was on this morning on "morning joe." kelly o'donnell said to her, what's it like to be in the room with the president when he's twisting your arm? she said really, he didn't. he didn't call me, i called him on the critical vote just before christmas break. she was approaching the white house, they weren't on her. he doesn't until recently seem to be this go-to force, one on one, calling him in. where's rahm? where's axelrod? where's the legislative strategy team? >> two different things there. i've also heard from inside the west wing that they just recognize that the president's style is not that. >> he's not a closer, is he? >> he's not a close r. he's not a back slapper. he's not going to get in there and really twist arms in that way. i think what he is is what the public is seeing as well with that bipartisan health care meeting. he wants to dig in on the issues here. now you do see him doing more of his job, getting in there, working the politics a little
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bit. i'm sure there's some veiled threats in there about whether he's going to come campaign for these folks as well. substantively there's a lot of feeling that here's an obvious statement. the white house senior staff is overexposed these day. one too many profiles. in the end there are certainly differences of approach versus the rahm emanuel, you know, more cool calculating style versus david axelrod, the keeper of the flame and campaign promises. they're going to butt heads. ultimately they remain close, i'm told. also the president is deciding on direction. everything is about health care. a conversation about where the president goes from here, does he remove people from senior staff, how does he recalibrate, it's all continues on whether he wins or loses. somebody said to me yesterday don't discount the impact of losing. that's huge. and that's why this vote is so important. >> thank you so much. >> thank you. >> david gregory. host of "meet the press." be sure to watch "meet the press" this and every sunday. check your local listings for time. coming up next, what
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political story will be making headlines in the next 24 hours? and be sure to follow the show online at andrea.msnbc.com and on twitter. this is "andrea mitchell reports" on st. patrick's day. >> i also want you to know that barack is actually an old celtic name. parents magazine and edmunds.com called it "one of the best family cars of 2009. "the insurance institute for highway safety
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so what political story will be making headlines in the next 24 hours? our hours? our panel, chris soliza and author of "the fix" and republican strategist former congressman vin weber here with me. kris, first to you, let's talk about the republican lawyers who are going to go after nancy pelosi and the democrats saying they're going to have a legal challenge of the health reform vote. what is their strategy? >> andrea, i think what
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republicans want to do and what this letter, which was sort of sent to interested parties which basically means any democrat who is vulnerable in 2010, what they want to do is send a signal that if the slaughter rule as they call it is deem and pass, whatever you want to call it, that the idea that the house will not need to vote on the senate bill, if they do that, it will not leave them not vulnerable to ads saying they voted for the senate bill and all its provisions. it is essentially a rhetorical shot saying we think we can attack you in ads. we believe legally we are within our rights here. don't think you're going to get out of those attacks simply if you don't have to cast an official, recorded vote for that senate bill. >> well, of course, the president is doing everything he can to persuade democrats that you've paid the price as david gregory was just saying to me. you've paid the price. you might as well get the health reform so we can move on. how good is he at closing?
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this is what i was referring to. blanche lincoln on "morning joe" just what it feels like to be, you know, arm twisted by the president. let's watch. >> well, i haven't visited with the president. >> he hasn't called you? >> no. >> you're clearly going to vote for. >> i made it pretty clear i didn't support reconciliation. >> i remember olympia snowe saying a couple weeks ago she voted for the rule to pass the jobs bill why? because the president finally picked up the phone and called and asked for it. i've heard this president is more standoffish. have you not had a lot of contact with barack obama on the personal lobby? >> well, i think he hates asking people to do things contrary to what their gut tells them to do. >> karen, that doesn't sound like the old lbj way. remember that famous picture with senator russell where russell is practically leaning over backwards. >> yes. >> as lbj is pointing the finger and as former majority leader getting him to pass this vote.
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what do you do if you have a president who doesn't like to lobby members of his own party? >> look. president obama has a very different strategy. that's why i think you've seen a greater involvement on the part of rahm emanuel. i hope this has been a learning process for the president but you know what? he's got to actually twist some arms. the other thing that was good this week is he got out and did one of the things he does best which is campaigning and getting out in front of the american people. i think that helps create some energy and momentum and that's really where he's very strong. >> what's the sort of cloak room chat about this president? are republicans afraid of him? are democrats afraid of him? >> no. the president's political standing is one thing. that does not make republicans very afraid of him. it doesn't make moderate democrats afraid of him because standing in more conservative areas of the country has gone down quite a bit more than his national overall standing. i don't think this president is the exception to the rule. i think lyndon johnson was the exception to the rule. most presidents we've seen in our life times have had a softer
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touch and then there are lieutenants either in the white house or the congress who are the ones that really -- >> what about calling bob carey -- >> bill clinton was probably the best arm twister of all but neither of the bush presidents was a hard sell guy. they had people working for them that were. president bush had tom delay in the congress to twist arms. the notion that every president is a lyndon johnson sells this president a little short. i think most presidents do it this way. >> andrea, there's another piece at play here. it is in the best interests frankly for democrats in congress to recognize whether they get the arm twisting from the president or not they've got to be able to go back to the american people and show we are able to govern as the party leading the congress and that we're able to get things done. obviously the republicans as we saw front page "new york times" today want a scorch earth strategy where they slow things down and object to things knowing that while i think it's that 17% poll shows people are very angry with congress it's probably going to hurt democrats more than republicans. i think it's unclear and i think this season is going to be
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somewhat unpredictable because people are so disgusted overall with congress's inability to come together and get things done. >> chris cillizza are you sensing they have momentum going with dennis kucinich from the left signing on, james overstar one of the antiabortion votes saying he'll stick with them? >> andrea, i've long believed or at least i don't know if it's long, i've believed since we knew this vote was coming it was going to pass somehow solely because the stakes for the white house and congressional democrats of it not passing as karen has outlined are that much higher. now, i've been wrong before and will be many times in the future. >> not you, chris. >> you know me too well. but i do think that, look, they, i think, will find that 216. come heck or high water i think they're going to find it. now, whether it is a good thing, bad thing, or neutral thing that they eventually pass this, i think that's what the next months between now and november will tell us.
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>> that's right. >> i think they are going to find the votes somehow. >> well, they probably will do it in the mid feel tl of the ni saturday night and louse up our weekends. thanks very much. we have more from chris on his blog at voices.washington post.com/the fix. that does it for me, this edition of andrea mitchell reports on st. patrick's day. remember, follow the show online and on twitter. tamron hall takes over from here with the latest developments out of north dakota. volunteers are in a desperate rush to protect the city of fargo from flood waters. stay with us. you're watching msnbc. my eyes water. but with new zyrtec® liquid gels, i get allergy relief at liquid speed. that's the fast, powerful relief of zyrtec®, now in a liquid gel. zyrtec® is the fastest 24-hour allergy medicine. it works on my worst symptoms so i'm ready by the time we get to the first hole. and that's good because the competition's steep today. new zyrtec® liquid gels work fast, so i can love the air.™
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i'm tamron hall right now on msnbc news live. one down but how many more to go? in an all out fight for votes, one of the biggest liberal holdouts ending the drama a short time ago congressman dennis kucinich says he will support health care reform but the bigger sell may be perhaps to the american public who remain sharply divided over the
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bill. >> me and my friends are sticking in groups and at night time you know trying to make sure even though they're far away, not trying to venture off from the tourist area. >> american kids on spring break in acapulco with armed police protecting them as mexican drug wars, assassinations, and beheadings rage around them. we are live in mexico with the very late oent the violence. and a treem effort right now in fargo, north dakota. look at this video. college students, even children pitching in as they race to save their city from the rising red river. of course we begin with the democrats' final push to get the 216 yes votes needed to get health care reform passed perhaps by this saturday. today they can count on one more yes, congressman dennis kucinich says despite loudly protesting the bill he is now willing to back it. take a listen last week and what he said today.
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